14 May 2009

Three stages in the destruction of a society

Taken from the introduction to Demons, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

"The 'seed of the idea of destruction' is the revolt against God; but that is over and done with, it is already forgotten, no one is concerned with it anymore. What follows is man's replacement of God and the correction of His creation. This amounts to a declaration of the absurdity and meaninglessness of history, of historical reality as the unfolding of God's will in time, but also as the lived life of mankind--that is, to a separation from the historical body of mankind. Reality itself, physical reality, begins to drain out of this radical 'idea,' leaving only the drab abstraction of materialism. This Dostoyevsky felt and realized, and it is one reason why his heroes, when they begin to save themselves, kiss the earth and 'water it with their tears.' The third stage of the revolt in the name of unlimited freedom is destruction and anarchism, represented by Pyotr Verkhovensky. This whole 'development' is a continuous fall, and its thrust is towards sheer fantasy, which our century has witnessed in its bloodiest and most senseless forms. Dostoyevsky explored, tested, represented these three stages with extraordinary prescience in Demons.

No comments: